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Young people´s ideas




How to involve young people in political decision-making?


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It is very important to get more young people involved in political decision-making and increase their trust in political institutions. Youth participation to political decision-making is alarmingly low in many European countries. Participatory democracy aims at advocating more direct forms of citizen participation and greater political representation than traditional representative democracy.

For these reasons we have developed an e-participation service for young people in co-operation with the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland. In addition different actors such as young people, municipalities, schools, NGO’s and youth councils were involved in developing of the service.


It is free of charge to the users and is developed annually based on their experiences and feedback. (“Young people’s ideas”) is a national e-participation service that has two main target groups 1) young people 2) organisations working with young people. Organisations can be local, regional or national actors who are interested in hearing young people’s opinions on different issues. The service can be used by municipalities, NGO’s, young people’s participation groups, student bodies, ministries etc.

Development of the e-participation service started in June 2013 and it was published in the beginning of 2015. is a permanent service provided by the Ministry of Justice of Finland. Koordinaatti is providing support services for actors using the service. Support services include training, maintenance of the service, marketing materials, guidelines and instructions to use the service.

In Finland there are five e-participation services altogether for different target groups and is one of them. It is free of charge to the users and is developed annually based on their experiences and feedback.

Main goals of the e-democracy service was developed to fulfill the requirement to find ways and means for young people to take part in decision-making and provide a tool to hear young people’s voice and opinions. Age definition of a young person in the Finnish Youth Act is under 29 years. Main target group of is young people aged 12-17.

Main goals of the service are:

  • equal opportunity for all young people to participate
  • hearing young people’s opinions, ideas and initiatives
  • improving skills to participate
  • providing support from adults (contact persons of the organisations)
  • providing a tool for democracy education
  • responding to the requirements of laws and recommendations.

Find ways and means for young people to take part in decision-making

Currently there are 540 ideas in the service

The function of is based on a process that makes sure young people’s ideas or initiatives are being processed and answered to. The initial idea is commented and supported by other young people and is then forwarded to the proper authorities for processing. Comments are not mandatory for an idea to proceed but discussion and support are an advantage in handling the issue and making the decision.

The process:

  • post ideas
  • support
  • comment and discuss
  • processing the ideas
  • decision making


Current situation of e-democracy service

Currently there are 540 ideas (109 national and 431 local) in the service, most of them have already received a decision. In the end of 2016 there were over 23 000 users (young people and contact persons of organisations).

The service is used by 86 organisations in Finland (April 2017). Majority of them are municipalities. Every municipality or other actor must engage to have at least one contact person who will support young people, forward the ideas and initiatives and promote the service on a local level. The contact person is usually a local youth worker or member of administrative staff. The young person drafting the idea is not required to have knowledge on how the idea should be processed further or who it shall be submitted to but young people are encouraged to carry their ideas forward. Different organisations have different practices and different number of workers who are responsible of the tasks related to the service. It is very important that the tasks and responsibilities are divided and agreed among the workers.

Supporting Young People’s Participation

The e-participation service provides a chance to participate, even for those young people who are not part of any formal youth participation groups. One of the benefits of the service is that everybody can participate as long as they have an online connection and computer or mobile device. The service does not favour anyone. It enables the participation of young people to the development and improvement of their own immediate environment. It offers a ready-to-use model that would be difficult for small municipalities to launch from scratch. In addition the service helps in making the interests of young people transparent and it can illustrate the progress of various ideas. Ideas can be local, regional or national. helps to bridge the gap between decision-makers and young people. Consequently, decision-makers can understand young people’s interests better. The service helps to make the decision-making process transparent for young people and possibly provides the very first experience of democracy.

Schools and teachers are important target groups. Especially when providing materials and training to improve young people’s skills in making their ideas heard and presenting them in different ways (eg. text, photos and video).

Promoting the service to young people is one of the tasks that demands the most resources. It is also a prerequisite for generating awareness of the service and for participation to become reality. A national marketing campaign with a famous Finnish YouTube group Justimusfilms has been launched by Koordinaatti to raise awareness of the service. Having famous YouTube vloggers as spokespersons of the cause is important and makes the service more visible and interesting for young people.

The e-participation service makes it possible to track how the ideas are processed in the municipality (or in other organisations) because the decisions are updated online by a local contact person or young people themselves. Even a small change can mean a major success story for an individual. All the initiatives by young people that have led to improvements or amendments are found online.

More information
Development Manager Jaana Fedotoff
Koordinaatti – National Development Centre of Youth Information and Counselling

Website of Koordinaatti (in English) / (in Finnish and Swedish)

Even a small change can mean a major success story for an individual.

by Planning Officer Merja-Maaria Oinas
Edited by Sanni Saglamer (substitute of Merja-Maaria Oinas until the end of May 2017 in Koordinaatti

Photos:  Title © Alexandra Beweis, all other © Koordinaatti


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